Football Opens SoCon and Season with 31-17 Victory
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Georgia Southern Football team (1-0) opened Southern Conference play and their season with a 31-17 win over Samford (0-1). The Eagles took a 4-3 series lead with the victory and snapped an 0-3 mark since the Bulldogs joined the SoCon.
GSU survived four fumbles but won the second half by a 24-10 margin. The Eagles were tied 7-7 at halftime and despite similar number of total yards and time of possession scored 24 points in the second half. A 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown broke open a close 14-10 contest in the third quarter. Georgia Southern rattled off two more scores to pull ahead 31-10 before a last minute 42 yard touchdown catch by Kelvin Clay brought the game to the final score of 31-17.
The kickoff return for a touchdown was a career-best 99 yarder for Laron Scott (Warner Robins, Ga.). It was the first GSU kickoff return for a touchdown since the 2008 Elon game and the 11th in Eagle history.
Georgia Southern amassed 263 yards on 49 rushes to just 61 yards rushing for Samford. The Bulldogs outgained the Eagles in the passing game, throwing for 277 yards but committing two interceptions. Robert Brown (Macon, Ga.) powered the GSU run game with 140 yards rushing and one touchdown.
The Georgia Southern defense helped stymie a number of drives with their five sacks and nine tackles for loss including the first drive of the third quarter. Javon Mention (Tampa, Fla.) posted two tackles for loss to lead the team, while Brent Russell (Comer, Ga.) earned his first sack of 2011 on the first play of that third quarter drive. Josh Gebhart (Douglasville, Ga.) followed with a second sack of Dusty Taliaferro on the next play to help force a three-and-out.
The Eagles scored just minutes into the second quarter and rebounded from an opening three and out with a 16 play 80 yard drive that ended with a two-yard run by Jerrick McKinnon (Marietta, Ga.). McKinnon finished with 80 yards on the ground and recorded two scores. The first quarter ended with Georgia Southern on the march, but it was Samford that had two scoring tries in the period. The Bulldogs missed a 37-yard field goal and elected to pooch punt on another of similar distance.
A second quarter drive that started with 5:46 left gave the Eagles a chance to add on to their lead. A career-high 42 yard pass reception from Johnathan Bryant (Cairo, Ga.) sparked the drive, but it was erased at the Samford 25 yard line on a fumble.
The Bulldogs tied the contest at 7-7 with a late second quarter drive which ended in a Fabian Truss six-yard touchdown rush. The 8 play 75 yard drive was hampered by two of the team's six first-half penalties but was kept alive by 53 yards of passing on three completions.
Georgia Southern surpassed their rushing total of 122 yards in last season's meeting with Samford on a six play 57 yard drive that ended in an 8 yard run through the right side of the Bulldog defense to retake the lead 14-7 in the third quarter. Bryant amassed 53 of those 57 yards including the touchdown to propel himself over the 100-yard mark for the game.
GSU tacked on a 41 yard field goal off the foot of Adrian Mora (Dalton, Ga.) and an 18 yard touchdown rush from McKinnon in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 31-10. The two drives ate up nearly seven minutes of clock and left Samford with little time to mount a comeback attempt.
The Georgia Southern Football team returns home for a 6 p.m. contest with Tusculum at Paulson Stadium. Season tickets for the 2011 season are still on sale and can be purchased online at GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com and by contacting the Georgia Southern Athletic Ticket Office.
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- Category: Football
- Published on Saturday, 03 September 2011 22:24